23 December 2008

A Glimpse into History

On one of this blog's most popular old posts, A Rock, a Hard Place, and Some Complaints about Each, we recently got a comment from someone who worked at the Filofax Head Office when the organizers were still lovingly handmade in England. The writer tells us eloquently what it was like to work for the company in those years, including visits from Grace Scurr, the woman who recreated the company's information from her personal Filofax when the original headquarters was bombed in 1940.

I urge all of you to light the fireplace, pour a snifter of brandy, and take a look at the post, which has a rich, lively comment thread as well as this exciting new addition.

For further reading pleasure, here's a New York Times article from Filofax's American heyday in the late 1980's when celebrities like Woody Allen and Diane Keaton were seen carrying their organizers everywhere.


  1. I enjoyed reading the Rock... post and the comments. It was interesting to see Kevin Hall's comment, as I've really enjoyed the photos of his collection on Flickr. Unfortunately the link to his Filofax chronology doesn't work. Does anyone know if the chronology is available elsewhere?


    And Best Wishes for a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to all...


  2. I too enjoyed the post and comments and was also disappointed that the link to the Filofax Chronology is a dead one. I would have loved to have seen that. As for Kevin Hall's Flickr collection - was there a link to this? I couldn't find one...I'd love to see that too.

    Happy holidays!

  3. Kanalt, Kevin's Flickr pics are posted under the name Biscuits in the House--go to flickr.com and do a search for "vintage filofax" and you'll find the pics.

    There's also a user named gmax who has some nice pics.

    But looking at the Flickr pics just made me yearn for more!


  4. Here is Kevin Hall's Chronology of Filofax.


  5. Okay. First, forget the official holephunch. Fiskars makes a single hole punch in an array of sizes. If like me, you are allured by the "six punch at one time" hole punch, you may be relieved to know that it is not necessary. It is a quite appealing thought to completely reinvent the wheel, but it is not necessary. Buy the the white sheets. No lines, completely blank. Use your imagination. Getting caught up in the notion of making your Filofax perfect is ridiculous. It can't happen. Work with what is provided, save your money and make it your own. By the way, using more than one, quite frankly, defeats the purpose. Have one. Only one. Leave the tabs as they are. Assume they mean anything you want. How many subjects do we need anyway? Add art. Add comments. Anything. The Filofax is the most versatile instrument I have ever known. I have used one for twenty two years. In that time, I have tried to improve upon it. Can't be done. There were days when I couldn't live without it -- and days, months when I could not stand to look at it. Try as I might, I cannot let it go.

    Has anyone else ever thought that way? Don't be shy. You know you are out there. . .

  6. Not really, Anonymous! :)

    Firstly, I'm a "recovering perfectionist" so need one area to let my insanity run wild and free... the day in 2006 when I meticulously hand-made tabbed dividers printed onto parchment-coloured card for my Personal Ffx comes to mind, but it was all time well spent because I enjoy them to this day.

    I added my own names for the sections and put photos of things that have meaning to me on both sides... suffice to say that me, Word and Photoshop had a long day of it! :)

    Secondly, I think our Filofaxes reflect our minds - so you use yours one way, and get what you need from it and have methods that work for your life - I do things differently, and I suspect that no two people who are serious users have the same systems, or aspirations.

    I bought the Personal sized hole-punch because it looks smart, I had the cash at the time, and I can just stamp and go, and while it's not a cheap item the pleasure of making my own inserts meant it was good value: if/when I move to A5 I'll do the same, despite the cost.

    Periodically tweaking my system is relaxing for me (I appreciate that other people might feel VERY differently!) and so I don't just enjoy the end results, but also the journey and experiments to get there.

    The world would be very dull if we all thought alike! ;)

  7. They were very interesting comments by the person who used to work for Filofax. It's quite reassuring to know that the people who worked inside the company felt it's change of direction in the early 90s wasn't a positive one. Personally I shouldn't have to ask myself why I carry a 15 years old Filofax binder but they don't make anything I would choose to buy now.

    When I closed down my web site unfortunately the chronology was a document that was removed as well. I do intend to put it back on the web complete with full references that my original lacked.

  8. Kevin & folks, if you input http://ukcoldwar.simplenet.com/documents/filofax/chronology/ into the internet archive at http://www.archive.org/index.php and select the page starred for Feb 18 2007, you can still read it!

  9. Oops - my link got chopped, but it's on the post here so hope y'all can find your way there if you're interested! As a matter of interest, filofax.co.uk has pages in the internet archive too - useful if you're thinking of buying a recent second-hand Ffx off e-Bay, that the official site no longer lists.

  10. Thanks - I know the original chronology is in the Internet Archive but it does need some improvement and I hope to publish the improved one soon :-)

  11. I think Anonymous and Miss Charlie's posts both reflect just why the Filofax has become such and enduring (and endearing!) tool for so many people. It can be whatever you want it to be. Its flexibility is unmatched, and it always has the classic, cool, classy look that Filofax is known for. Really, what's not to like? However you use it, it's great.

    Anonymous, I would LOVE to hear how you have used, modified, and evolved your Filofax during your 22 years of usage. Anything you would like to discuss would have a welcome audience here!

  12. Kevin - I'd love to see that updated version of your fine chronology document when you get round to it.


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